Can Someone help with MIDI recording?

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by Shark Bait, Mar 11, 2012.

  1. Shark Bait

    Shark Bait Active Member

    USA! USA!
    I have an electric drum kit and I recently started using it to record midi tracks. The problem is the default drum map has pretty lousy sounds and it really sounds awful compared to when I play through my speakers.

    Would it be helpful to transfer the track to my desktop (which is pretty powerful) and then process it there? I was also thinking it might be even better if I get a dedicated sound card for said computer.

    if you don't know, any useful information about MIDI recording would also be appreciated. I'm still really new to this
  2. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    Kirkland WA
    Home Page:
    Search for audio interfaces, not soundcards or you'll end up with a soundblaster. (great for games, not recording)

  3. Shark Bait

    Shark Bait Active Member

    USA! USA!
    I have this

    is that what you mean by interface?
  4. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    Clues I'm seeing:
    Are you actually recording "MIDI" tracks, or are you recording the audio from the electronic drums, and you don't like their sounds?

    Or, are you actually recording MIDI tracks, and having them play back the sounds from the electronic drum module, or some other device used to play back MIDI-triggered sounds (VSTi through the Lexicon, onboard/add-on sound card's MIDI sounds, etc.), and don't like those sounds?

    What drums (and module) are you using? if you are actually recording the MIDI "performance" into a software sequencer (in a DAW), then you should be able to assign any drum sounds that you have available (or can get). If you are only recording the "audio" from the outputs of the drum module, and you don't like the sounds, then running the audio through anything else, or transferring the audio to another computer is not likely to impress you any more.

    I have a feeling the way this was presented that you MAY be confusing the audio from your MIDI-capable drum kit with MIDI data. MIDI is not audio. Audio is not MIDI. MIDI is simply instructions to tell a device to play to a certain note, at a certain time, on a certain channel, at a specified velocity, for a specified amount of time, at a certain pan position....etc. Once the MIDI data is received by a playback device, it responds to what the instructions tell it to do. You can change all that data in an infinite variety of ways, and you can assign one instrument...or two...or as many as your sequencer and receiving devices are capable of transmitting/receiving to one instrument, if you wanted.

    That means you can copy the data in a track, paste it to a new MIDI track, and assign, say, a second snare drum sound from whatever device will respond, to mix'n'match the two. Maybe you have a bright, snappy snare in one sound set, and a nice woody round snare in another? Neither sounds particularly good for the particular song, but adding a little woodiness to a snappy snare (mixed to a single pan position so they sound like one) may be just the ticket. Maybe you want to add a little reverb to to the snappy snare, but doing so to the woody one will make it sound too "boingy"? You can do that. Since the quick snappy hit may be dry and short, adding a bit of reverb to that one may help "bloom" it into the longer, more resonant woodier one, and give it more sense of space, as well?

    I do that all the time. It's especially good for taking the "robotics" and "sameness" out of MIDI cymbals. I really like it on ride cymbals. I might find a ride sound that sounds more close to the edge, one that sounds further toward the bell and one that sounds even closer to the bell. I might even add a fourth one. As I'm going through the tune, I'll vary their "respective velocities" so it sounds like the drummer's hand may be "dancing" in and out a bit (chu-chu-chi-chi-chu-chu-chi-chi-din-ding)...something like that.

    It's all one basic MIDI "performance", and as long as you are careful not to stack too many notes at "exactly" the same time, your sequencer should be able to deal with it. (I'll go into my data editor and nudge notes one or two units back or forward. It's such a small variance that it's basically imperceptible).

    Anyway, let us know the drum kit you have, and maybe the program(s) you are using. Also, confirm one way, or the other, whether you really are recording "MIDI", or if you are actually recording audio from the drum module? Then, we'll go from there.

    Good luck,

  5. Shark Bait

    Shark Bait Active Member

    USA! USA!
    Thanks, kap. I'm definitely recording MIDI, and I have a basic understanding of how it works, but I'm not quite clear on the process of changing the MIDI information to audio.

    This is the kit I'm using. I used my laptop to record the MIDI track on Cubase software. My complaint was basically with the quality of the samples, which I guess are the responsibility of the software, but it also seemed like it wasn't playing quite on time. It might have just been me but it sounded a bit off time compared to when I was playing it through my speakers (I was recording the MIDI at the same time.)

    Should I try new software? or try running it on my desktop? recording it on my desktop?
  6. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    OK. Good. It's the SAMPLES in whatever software sample set you don't like, then. You are not using any of the Yamaha drum kit sounds? Do any of them sound good, and are useable? You can trigger them from your MIDI performance, and record the output back from the module in. One track at a time, if you wish.

    So, it seems you may need new sounds, if you are using software instruments of some sort. Or maybe you can use the least objectionable sounds that fit close to the style, and layer in other samples, or use some Yamaha sounds to layer, if any of them are good?

    As far as "timing", there are a couple things about that. You should have your MIDI timing set to the highest resolution it can be set to. (PPQ) I haven't used Cubase in years, so I can't tell you if and how it can be set? Should be easy to find in manual, or online. Setting something like that to the highest value will give the note the best chance to fall in closest to the right timing spot. Say, if it's set to...120....the note has 120 chances to hit at precisely the right time. If it's set at....960? It has 960 chances in the same time period, which will enable it to slide in closer to the actual performance. I'm not even sure Cubase does that, but check it out.

    Here's another thing: Forum - Main Forums : PC Music

    See if there is anything int here that helps.

    Also, when using a sample triggered from a hard drive, you'll often find a time lag from using the sample. You hit a drum pad. The signal takes a certain amount of time to get from the pad, through the module, to the computer, through the decisions of the software...which says "find that sample", so it may take some time to locate the sample, process it, and then spit it back out of the interface/sound card/etc.

    It helps to have samples and stuff on a separate hard drive, have plenty of RAM, have all your settings in Cubase optimized for your task, and have your general...optimized for recording/playback. MIDI is easy on a computer. MIDI finding audio samples (not residing in sound card RAM, outboard unit RAM or even system RAM) takes a bit more work.

    You may try this. I do it all the time. If you have cheezoid MIDI sounds on a built-in sound card, just go ahead and try to work with them in the early stages. They may play back faster. When adding other audio (guitars, bass, vocals), all I really need are the timing reference, performance and structure of the song. Maybe even monitor from the Yamaha module, if they sound any better, and don't try to listen to the computer while recording. The same performance will be in there. It may be late a few ms, but once it's established, everything else can be done with respect to it.

    Once the basic tune is established, and after you've recorded some other parts...then maybe start looking for some samples to fit in with the tune? Maybe use some of the Yamaha's, and mix them with a sample off the computer? You can always try to nudge a track a bit to line up, if something is consistently later. It's not hard to do in MIDI.

    So, yeah...if you are triggering a boatload of hard drive-residing samples, give them a separate hard drive (to keep it from competing with your system drive and recording DO have a separate audio recording drive?), if possible. you say you have a laptop. With one hard drive for everything? If so, you're asking an awful lot out of those little heads to skitter about at a frantic pace to do OS duties, recording duties, playback duties AND finding samples. There are a lot of things to consider. Not to mention the various buffering for a variety of things including Cubase buffer settings. Which all, basically, relate somewhat to system RAM.

    It will help to have a properly configured computer, if doing audio...which is basically part of what MIDI-triggered samples is. MIDI, in itself, is easy on a computer. If you are sending MIDI data somewhere else, and not trying to have the same computer play back the audio the MIDI data could get away with using a dinosaur of a computer. I ran it fine for years on a 386SX with a whopping 16MG of RAM. It's when you are trying to have the computer ALSO do audio playback/recording duties (including triggering audio samples) that you really have to start considering a lot of variables.

    And, you'll still likely get SOME amount of latency when trying to monitor a MIDI-triggered software sample, though proper settings and configuration can minimize it a lot, many times to where it's tolerable.

  7. Shark Bait

    Shark Bait Active Member

    USA! USA!
    Thanks again. I didn't realize I could use the sounds on the yamaha for midi. That would be perfect, it actually has really good sounds. I was looking for a midi in on it but couldn't find I just plug into the midi out?

    My laptop is decent but it doesn't have multiple hard drives and it's probably struggling to deal with all I'm asking of it. The only reason I don't use my gaming desktop is that it's in a different room than my drum kit and the prospect of moving either across my house isn't exactly appealing. But from what I'm understanding, it would be possible to record the track first on the laptop, then save it and export it to another computer for playback?
  8. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    Well, then. Peeking at the apparently DOES NOT have a MIDI IN! WHAT? Didn't realize that. (ANYTHING that can generate MIDI out, and also play sounds on it's own should have a MIDI In, if I was king...but I'm not.) It didn't occur to me that what I consider "kind of" a drum machine wouldn't have MIDI In. Why would they leave that off? Do they do that to a lot of electronic drum modules? Yeah, you could record it in on one, and then transfer it. Kapt.Krunch
  9. Shark Bait

    Shark Bait Active Member

    USA! USA!
    Well, that's disappointing. I can probably still get better sounds if I use better software though.

    Thanks for your help

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